President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday lifted Moscow’s travel restrictions to Turkey and ordered trade ties normalised after his first phone call with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan since Ankara downed a Russian jet last year.
In the wake of the November incident Moscow slapped a range of sanctions on Ankara, including an embargo on some Turkish food products, as well as a ban on charter flights and sales of package tours to the country and the reintroduction of visas for Turkish visitors.
“I want to start with the question of tourism… we are lifting the administrative restrictions in this area,” Putin told government ministers in televised comments.
“I ask that the Russian government begins the process of normalising general trade and economic ties with Turkey,” he said.
The breakthrough phone call by Putin to Erdogan came after the Turkish strongman on Monday sent a letter to the Kremlin leader that Moscow said contained an apology.
In a statement, the Kremlin said that Putin expressed “profound condolences” over the Monday bombing and shooting attack at Istanbul’s main airport that killed at least 41 people and was pinned by Ankara on Islamic State group.
The Turkish presidency said in a statement that Erdogan and Putin “highlighted the importance of the normalisation of bilateral relations between Turkey and Russia.”
Erdogan is expected to meet with Putin in September on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit in China for their first face-to-face talks since the start of the diplomatic row, a Turkish official told AFP on Wednesday speaking on condition of anonymity.